Jan 22, 2009

Indiana Senate committee OKs Silver Alert system

Previously, I wrote asking for support of the Silver Alert initiative in the Indiana state legislature. Good news--the senate committee committee voted in favor of the proposed bill. If you want to weigh in and help insure the bill becomes a law go here to find out how to do it.
The death of 91-year-old Clifford E. "Jack" Obenchain has prompted lawmakers to propose creating a public alert system like the one used when children are missing.
Subscribe to The Alzheimer's Reading Room--via Email
Obenchain was missing two weeks before he was found dead in a Northern Indiana creek, many counties away from home.
Support the Silver Alert system in your state. With our help we might be able to insure that situations like that described in the story below stop happening.

Indiana Senate committee OKs Silver Alert system

Under the program, stations would broadcast bulletins on adults who are in danger
By Bruce C. Smith
bruce.smith@indystar.com

The death of 91-year-old Clifford E. "Jack" Obenchain has prompted lawmakers to propose creating a public alert system like the one used when children are missing.

A state Senate committee voted Wednesday in favor of establishing a Silver Alert system. Similar to Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts would be issued by police, voluntarily broadcast by TV and radio stations and posted on Web sites when an adult is believed to be in danger.

Obenchain apparently suffered a series of mini-strokes while driving in Indianapolis in December 2007. Disoriented, Obenchain then drove as far as Ohio, apparently unable to find his way home. The Pittsboro man was stopped once by an Ohio policeman but sent on his way with driving instructions.

Obenchain was missing two weeks before he was found dead in a Northern Indiana creek, many counties away from home.

"At least we were fortunate to have found him. Many families don't even get that," said Nancy Boggs-Bray, Brownsburg, Obenchain's granddaughter. "After Grandpa died, we asked the legislators from our area if something could be done so this wouldn't happen to any other families."

At least 10 other states have created versions of the Silver Alert.

On Wednesday, members of the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services voted 7-0 in support of Senate Bill 307, introduced by Sen. Patricia L. Miller, R-Indianapolis. The measure now goes to the full Senate for action.

In a hearing on the bill last week, law enforcement agencies expressed concerns that creating a Silver Alert might hurt the effectiveness of the Amber Alert system.

One reason Amber Alerts have been so effective is that only a handful are issued each year -- three in Indiana in 2008, according to police.

But a lobbyist for seniors and families of missing adults said the need for a Silver Alert will increase as baby boomers age.

More than 115,000 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with the memory-robbing Alzheimer's disease, which can cause adults to wander from caregivers, according to the Alzheimer's Association of Indiana.

"Thousands of Hoosiers now suffer from Alzheimer's, and it has been estimated as many as 60 percent may wander away from home at some point," Miller said.

"Regardless of age, all life is valuable, and the state should use every available resource to find Hoosiers in danger -- especially our young and aged."